LONDON – Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck the winner as a clinical Paris St Germain team outclassed Chelsea 2-1 on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
PSG, who won the first leg of the last-16 tie 2-1 in Paris, made the last eight for the fourth successive season 4-2 on aggregate after dominating a compelling match at Stamford Bridge.
The French champions went ahead in the 16th minute when Angel Di Maria found Ibrahimovic, sent off when the sides clashed at the same stage a year ago, wide on the right. The Swedish striker’s cross eluded the defence for Adrian Rabiot to tap in.
Chelsea hit back with a superbly-constructed equaliser when Diego Costa checked past Thiago Silva to fire wide of Kevin Trapp after 27 minutes, but the hosts lost their cutting edge when Costa went off injured and Ibrahimovic turned in Di Maria’s cross from close range after 67 minutes.
“It was a difficult game for us but we never change our philosophy, we try to play with the ball and create gaps to score,” PSG’s former Chelsea defender David Luiz told BT Sport.
“It was a collective victory. Everyone knows how hard it is to play here. We kept calm and we scored at key moments.”
Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink bemoaned the gulf in quality between the sides.
“You saw the difference between the squads when we had to bring young guys on and they have Edinson Cavani to come in,” the Dutchman said.
“We gave too much respect in the first 10 minutes, they were dominating. They are a good side but once we stepped up we had some chances.”
PSG settled quickly and took an early grip on a game played at a frenetic pace with Ibrahimovic dropping back into midfield and linking superbly with Di Maria and Lucas to put the Chelsea defence under real pressure.
The visitors sounded a warning when Ibrahimovic put the ball in the net and although he was clearly offside, they did score a few minutes later through Rabiot.
Chelsea were not behind for long and with both sets of supporters creating a cracking atmosphere, the home side began to impose themselves on PSG with Willian central to most of their best moves and Costa a constant threat.
With the score still 1-1, however, Costa went off with a calf injury and the visitors wrapped up the match and the tie through Ibrahimovic’s goal.
Premier League champions Chelsea, languishing 10th in the domestic standings, now have the FA Cup as their only hope of a trophy this season.